Johanna is one!

Saturday was Johanna’s first birthday! It is hard to believe she is already one….

We thought about having a big party with all the MCV kids, but we did not want to encourage the already present “princess” problem (how the kids treat her special☺) Luckily, our friend Linda, who has been faithfully serving at MCV and assisting us in various ways, really wanted to do a safari before leaving South Africa. Therefore, we decided Johanna could have a fun, safari birthday! Our sweet girl celebrated with some larger-than-life guests- elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras, etc! Good thing the guests stayed at a safe distance☺

Pray for us! Johanna started walking the day before her birthday, so she is EVERYWHERE! I thought it was challenging trying to stay on top of all our ministry responsibilities before, but now with a major focus of just keeping her alive, I really need Holy Spirit’s help☺

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MCV Praise team!

The sweetest sound was heard last week as the MCV worship team gathered for practice! Recently a worship leader from Maputo blessed the kids with lots of guitar lessons and times of worship. This lead to several children gathering informally to practice guitar and sing different praise songs. Gloriously, this prompted one of our local worship leaders, Wonder, to volunteer teaching and empowering this new praise team! The group is still praying a about a name, but we couldn’t help testifying about this new ministry for MCV!

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Miracle in the making…

We are reaching out to you today to ask for prayer for our precious Thapelo. In early January, Thapelo was brought to us by social workers from Themba Hospital. He came to us extremely sick and malnourished. He had just endured months in the hospital and was just beginning the ARTs (the HIV treatment which is extremely hard on the body). When he came, he was on over 10 different medicines for HIV+, mild lymphopenia, anemia, latent TB, and some strange skin fungus….The first picture is what Thapelo looked like when he arrived…

We have seen amazing advancement with Thapelo! He quickly began to gain weight and strength. Within weeks, Thapelo was running about MCV playing with the other children and bossing around the little ones:) Eating everything in sight, we could not make food fast enough. His engaging smile was caught on camera two weeks ago- what a transformation!

However in the past 10 days his health has taken a dramatic negative turn. Last week, he started retaining water at an alarming rate which bloated his poor body and created such tension breathing became difficult. Our medical intern, Catherine, has been at the local hospitals for 5 days following up his tests, abdominal CT scan, and blood work. Currently, the doctors believe he has a blockage in his gall bladder, an enlarged right kidney, and enlarged liver…

Please join us in prayer believing for a supernatural healing for Thapelo! We write this from casualties (the ER) as we wait to speak to the doctor. His fever was spiking today and his breathing was rapid and distressed. The doctors may order an ultrasound to locate the blockage, but an operation would be impossible due to his anemia and fragile blood count. So we need divine intervention to reverse this attack against Thapelo’s body!

We are asking God to give him a new gall bladder, liver, kidneys, and immune system! Our God is more than able to do this and much more! Believe with us for Thapelo to soar into God’s dreams and destiny for his life!

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103: 2-5

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Pastors Advance 2011

At the beginning of every year, our ministry (Iris Africa/PIH) hosts a three-day seminar for leaders and pastors. Keeping with the vision given to Pastor Surprise Sithole, the first three weeks of each year is spent in fasting/prayer and then is followed by a time of impartation into national leadership. Following this God given strategy, over 100 leaders from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique (Swaziland was not in attendance) are launched into the new year with fresh teaching, fire, and anointing for the Kingdom of God! As usual, Jean and I (and a few local leaders) ran around like crazy this week trying to bring things together…WOW…was it ever worth it!!!

Pastor Collin McGeer and his ministry team from Pretoria especially blessed us this year. With deep revelations about Kingdom authority and normalcy of supernatural lifestyles, our leaders were empowered and challenged. Healings and visions abounded! One highlight was when one dear lady testified of an angelic visitation. The angel spoke to her preach the Gospels in local schools….she was so overcome by God’s presence, she had to leave the gathering…but when she returned, she saw the angel again hovering over different leaders. Later when she testified about this, the Holy Spirited ushered another wave of eyes being opened in the Spirit!

Gloriously, Saturday night was an absolute Holy Ghost party as everyone received fresh power during the alter time and fire tunnel! The manifest presence of God and the fire of His love overwhelmed almost everyone. We concluded our Pastors Advance Conference on Sunday morning with Pastor Richard from Zimbabwe and experienced another outpouring of God’s love and power. Please pray with us for each pastor and leader to walk in the fullness of the Spirit with signs and wonders following!

Clink on the following link for more pictures:


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Nice Interruption!

I (Jean) arrived prepared to teach New Testament Values at 8:30am today, however the Holy Spirit had other plans. Normally we sing one song, then we pray for two-three minutes, and then we begin class. Today was totally different. The presence of God was tangible; the atmosphere of heaven had invaded our little classroom in Back Door South Africa. Two hours later class was over and we hadn’t even opened our book or even the Bible!

After one hour of worship and prayer one of the students released two words of knowledge. Then another student shared a vision he had during our time of worship. A third student then released a prophetic word for the class. After this two different students responded to the words of knowledge and received healing! Then we all prayed and prophesied over one another for the next 45 minutes until it was time for the next class to begin. I left class knowing I had an encounter with the living God. Changed by His glorious presence!!

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First day of School

Excitement filled the early morning air as kids dashed in and out of houses showing off their new uniforms. While some kids finished breakfast, others were busy posing for pictures. Some kids already misplaced needed items, so houseparents were scattering to and fro finding the lost articles. I helped our most infamous’ boy put his school shoes back on after taking them off for the 2nd or 3rd time (his name starts with an S☺ ) Momma Dea passed out the last of the school supplies, as the kids prepared to load the vehicles. With hugs and prayers, the MCV team sent the older kids off to another first day of school. Pray with us for each child to embrace every opportunity for learning and shinning Christ’s love. We believe someday soon it will be normal for our kids to come home with testimonies of healing and salvation!

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Church ‘Repotting’ and Planting!

Recently, a horrible thunderstorm wrecked our current place of worship for the PIH/Iris Africa church in Backdoor (our home church). The old, weathered tent was torn in several places, so it was declared unusable that Sunday morning. Quick thinking Pastor Surprise had the idea of moving the service over to the shelter at Village of Hope (the community outreach center). Although small, it could accommodate the services until the new church building was finished. For many years, the Backdoor church has wanted to build a proper building, so the death of the tent served as another confirmation that now is indeed the time to build!
About a week after the tent came down, Pastor Surprise got a random phone call asking him to meet a gentleman at a local bank. Pastor Surprise had just attended an all night prayer meeting/funeral, so he was very tired when he got the call. Gloriously, the Holy Spirit gave him renewed strength and told him he must meet the man at the bank. Pastor Surprise arrived and greeted the man. The gentleman would not give his name or any other information. The man heard that the church tent was destroyed and that plans were being made to build a new church, so he wanted to bless Pastor Surprise with R32,000 ($5500US) for the new church building! Breathlessly, Pastor Surprise watched the bank teller hand him this huge offering for the church. Again Pastor Surprise questioned the man about his name, but he just smiled and left….We think he was maybe an angel…and this angel had a South African bank account! Therefore, the Backdoor church is excitedly moving forward in building plans….
Just as this is all happening, the Lord speaks to Pastor Surprise about planting a church in Nelspruit! This is the large urban center about 30 minutes from MCV and the city which Pastor Surprise has his home. Years ago, Pastor Surprise had a powerful vision about the city of Nelspruit being surrounded with a wall of fire. And during special prayer for the new year, God confirmed that this was the year for lighting that fire in Nelspruit. Pastor Surprise’s wife also had a vision years before that she would be ‘home’ in a church with a red carpet. Dear friends of the Sitholes offered a church building that to the delight of Surprise and Tryphina has beautiful red carpet!
Yesterday was the first celebration service of the new church plant! People came from hundreds of km away to bless this new birth. Even though there was a disturbing attack from the enemy regarding the church building, nothing stopped this amazing birth. Everyone simply piled into cars and we met at another location in Nelspruit. After a time of incredible worship, Pastor Surprise preached from Lev. 6:12-13. The fire of God fell and burned our hearts for His harvest in this precious city. Pray with us for this new church plant which is so dear to God’s and the Sitholes’ hearts!
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Christmas Joy!

What a day of Christ’s unfailing love at MCV! The faces of our children say it all, but one of our visitors, Myrinda wrote the following account of the day! Clink on link to photo gallery:
Michael’s Children’s Village had a wonderful Christmas here in Africa! Late at night on Christmas Eve, the visitors went to all the houses to decorate the tables so that the children would wake up to fun decorations—there were crackers (little Christmas gifts that pop or “crack” open when you twist them) as well as a balloon at each place setting. We also put colorful napkins in each glass and a shiny garland down the middle of each table.
On Christmas morning, the children awoke to a decorated table and a nice breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon, and juice prepared by their parents—what a treat! When they came over to the visitor house later in the morning, they were all happily playing with their own personal balloon :). Teisa, Jean, Grace (the wonderful cook from the Pastors’ Christmas lunch) and her daughter, and all of the visitors enjoyed a nice Christmas breakfast as well.
About an hour later, we gathered a bunch of chairs under a big shade tree to commence the opening of gifts (God gave us a warm, sunny, and breezy Christmas morning 🙂 Pastor Surprise and Teisa spoke to the children about the true meaning of Christmas; how every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven who gave us Jesus! After it was clear where the gifts came from, they called up the first household to receive their gifts. After all the children were given their packages, everyone laid hands on the family to pray for them, and then they began excitedly opening their gifts. Some had never experienced a Christmas celebration before, so they were a bit bewildered about all the excitement; however, after they understood that these toys and clothes were for them, they began to happily play. The children that came to MCV last year were a bit more animated about their gifts because they understood what was happening 🙂 After each family was called forward, they all returned to their houses to enjoy their new toys until our afternoon Christmas braai began.
Late in the afternoon, we began preparing food for the meal—hamburgers and hotdogs went on the grill (these foods are a real treat for the children—not often served here!) and pap (boiled maize meal) and gravy were cooked up. The kids continued playing all the while. We handed out a plate of food with a Coke to everyone; it was interesting to see how the kids ate their burgers—some ate the hamburger and bun separately, dipping everything in the ketchup, and some put their hamburger and ketchup on their bun. No matter how they did it, they all enjoyed the meal! Halfway through, it began to rain on us, but the kids just took cover wherever they could find it and kept happily eating :).
Another amazing day of Christ’s unfailing love MCV! The faces of our children say it all- so please check out our new galley of Christmas pictures!
We want to thank all of those who made all the Christmas gifts possible—All Nations Fellowship in New Orleans, USA; Westside Community Church in Toronto, Canada; and Mercy Happens in Netherlands. What a blessing you all have been to our family here in South Africa!
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Backdoor Christmas Party

In December, we put on a Christmas outreach in the community of Back Door (up the “mountain” as they call it, from the children’s village). Iris Ministries has a Preschool and a Feeding Program there, and we prepared 400 bags of goodies for the children as well as some gift baskets for the mamas who cook for the feeding program each day. Teisa, one of our directors, gave a message about how Christmas is not just about receiving gifts, having parties, and eating good food, but about God giving us life through the birth of His Son Jesus. There was a puppet show, and our visitors presented a special song and skit for the children. It was such a delight to see all their faces lit up, intently listening to the songs and the puppets. Many of these kids come with old, tattered clothes and not much to eat at home, but they were happy to be in this place where the security and love of Jesus surrounds them.
After the program, the cooks served a meal to more than 400 people. We had a pretty good system of feeding the little ones (5 and younger) first, then the older kids, and then the adults. It began to pour down rain as we were lining the children up in lines of 20 or so at a time. We stood in the rain with them, trying to keep the order (and keep the older kids from sneaking in before the younger ones :). As it started to rain harder, our visitors decided that since they were completely soaked anyway, they might as well have a bit of fun 🙂 They started dancing in the rain as they controlled the line, and the children smiled and laughed, making the fact that they too were getting soaked not so bad. Water was dripping from all our eyebrows, into our eyes, and down our noses :).
We eventually got everyone fed and under a roof to eat. There was a team of 10-12 from Atlanta, GA, helping us keep the peace (praise God for their help!), but right before we were about to hand out the goodies to the kids, they had to leave as they were going to help out at a revival in another town. That was a bit nerve-racking because we had just lost half of our workers with 350 kids to serve. It was still raining, and it got a little crazy, but with the help of the Lord, we managed to send each child out with their gift in a somewhat orderly fashion. We came home drenched and happy that we were able to show the love of Jesus to so many people in one day! Praise Him!
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Christmas Preparations

Christmas season is here, and MCV is quickly gearing up for all types of festivities over the next two weeks to celebrate our Savior’s birth!
We have been preparing for our Back Door Christmas Outreach, where we will be handing out 400 bags of goodies to the children in the community. Please pray that our message about the birth of Jesus will pierce the hearts of every man, woman, and child—what good news we have to share! We’ve also prepared baskets for some of the women in the community who work so hard cooking for our feeding program each day—we are so thankful to them for what they do! In addition, we want to thank our visitors for helping us put all the bags and baskets together in short order—they had a great time of it!
Secondly, we are preparing to put on a Christmas party for all our commission pastors from the provinces of South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, for their labors in furthering the Gospel message. They are all mighty servants of our Great God, and we look forward to honoring each of them for their Kingdom work!
Last but definitely not least, we are preparing to put together gifts for our own children here at MCV. We plan to give each child a brand new outfit (Thank you Jill and Mercy Happens Ministries), undergarments , a really great toy or gift, a few smaller toys/gifts, and a bag of sweets and Coke for their instant enjoyment on that day. What a joy it is to honor these children as they are all sons and daughters of the Almighty God in heaven!
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